Yankee Stadium, then and now

It’s an awesome place, no doubt about it. New Yankee Stadium has all the modern, state-of-the-art conveniences, and it still has that feel of the old stadium, where you always knew you were walking into history every time you played there. The field looks the same and plays basically the same, and that’s great. Why mess with a good thing?

It’s a funny thing about the old ballpark. I didn’t do very well there during the regular season, but I had some moments in October in the postseason. Even those came with a bad ending, though. The Yankees beat my Twins in the 2003 and 2004 playoffs, and that always stings. Still stings, to this day.

Lyle Spencer of MLB.com did some research and reminded me that I had some big games in the old park when it really counted. He told me I should remember that I came up big on the big stage, the biggest one, and I appreciated that.

In 2003, we won the first game of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium, 3-1. I had a triple, an RBI and two walks that day. In Game 2, Andy Pettitte beat us, 4-1. Our only run was a home run I hit, and I had another hit that day.

They beat us in four games in that series, and I ended up hitting .429. In my first playoff series, in 2002 against the A’s, I’d batted .300 with four doubles and two RBIs in five games.

I’m not that big on numbers, but it’s nice to have those next to my name, I have to admit. October baseball is what it’s all about. It always takes me back to my high school football days in Arkansas, the adrenaline and excitement and energy you feel.

In 2004, back at Yankee Stadium, we won Game 1 again, 2-0, behind Johan Santana, and I went 1-for-4. The next game was a heartbreaker. We lost, 7-6, in 12 innings. I went 3-for-6 with a double and a homer. I had a single against Tom Gordon when we scored two runs in the eighth inning to tie the game.

The homer came against Tanyon Sturtze with two outs in the 12th inning and gave us the lead. But the Yankees came back with two in the bottom half to win it.

That was my last postseason game in the old park. I ended up going 7-for-16 in the Bronx in those four games for a .438 average, with two homers, a triple and a double.

We ended up losing that series too, in four games, and I batted .353. It’s strange. Even though I put up some good numbers in those two series, I was left feeling nothing but disappointment and frustration.

It’s not hard to figure out why. This is a team game, and it’s all about winning. You win as a team, lose as a team.

So there we were last October, playing Boston in the ALDS, full of high hopes in my first season with the Angels. I thought we were ready. I was confident we had the best team – and it was the same deal. Heartbreak.

The numbers say I had a good series, hitting .389 with five RBIs in four games, but we lost, and it hurt way down deep. Same ol’ same ol’, and that’s something we have to change this season.

I’ve played in 20 ALDS games with a .350 average and a .563 slugging percentage. But the only time we made it to the AL Championship Series, in 2002, the Angels knocked us off on their way to the World Series title.

It’s time for the Angels to do it again. And I want to be right in the middle of it when it happens.  

11 Comments

I grew up in New York and visited the old Yankees stadium with my Dad. He past last year so the memories of the stadium and my Dad are AWESOME. I moved out to Orange County and my brother was a SERIOUS Angel fan. And, thus I became a SERIOUS Angel Fan. I was there when the fans were few and far between. And, I am still here to be a strong fan. I know that the loss of last season must have been so very hard for the team. But, all you can do is put yourself forward to this new season and TRY you very best to go all the way. I do strongly believe that this team has the talent to go ALL THE WAY. I am so very impressed with your playing Torii. I can see you before the games see the way you support your team and the energy that comes from you is AWESOME. Keep playing hard. I will keep you and the team in my prayers for a healthy and successful season.

Good luck at the game vs NY and thanks for sharing the memories of the Old Stadium!! I wish you and the Angels luck this season, from a Red Sox fan, that is a lot, since you beat us a few weeks back. Nice series, by the way.

http://irishsoxkid19.mlblogs.com

TORII: It’s time for the Angels to do it again. And I want to be right in the middle of it when it happens.

When it happens all your fans will stand behind you guys and cheer you on, i’m still waiting for the biggest ANGELS rally ever. You guys can still do it, i believe in you guys to make the greatest comeback ever. come on ANGELS lets win the 2009 world series!!!

WIN, LOSE, OR TIE ANGELS TILL I DIE!!

Hey Torii, as a long time Angel fan now living on the east coast outside Philadelphia, I drove my son (age 10) to NY see you guys play last Saturday. Having spent 10 years in Jersey, my son grew up a Yankee fan and last summer I took him to a couple games. Now with the new stadium, and my favorite team in town, I took him to the Angel game at Yankee stadium! We both had a blast, each in our team’s jersey’s, rooting for our team. I grew up an Angel fan with my dad taking my brother and I to several games in the 70′s when it was Brian Downing, Carney Lansford, Bobby Grich, etc. I’ve always been a fan and have recently started following you guys again. My mother’s day gift the last two years has been the MLB package with Direct TV so I can follow you throughout the season! Hope to make it to a couple games out in CA later this summer. I enjoy watching you play and respect the camaraderie you’ve developed with the team having been with them only for a short while. I look forward to you guys going all the way this year! Fan Strong from PA!

Torii,
My wife and I are from Bakersfield (about two hours north of Anaheim) and are both big Angels fans. On occasion, we are able to drive down to the great Angels Stadium to enjoy a game. It is true that there is no other stadium in the world like the old Yankees Stadium, or the new one for that matter, but in my opinion, there is also no other stadium in the world like Angels Stadium, and every time the team takes the field, history is definitely being made. Though I have never been to New York and witnessed a game there, I can’t imagine the feelings being any better than being present when the big halo is lit up after another Angels victory.
I was able to attend the first game of the Detroit series a week and a half ago at good ol’ Angels Stadium, and was able to take my younger sister who had, before that night, never been to a professional baseball game. As the team took the field, I was excited to point out to her who each of you are. “There in left field is Bobby Abreu (he was playing left that night)…there at 3rd base is Chone Figgins…but there in center field is one of the best baseball players in the league, my favorite player, Torii Hunter!” You definitely did not disappoint. You lead the team to victory with your home run out to the rocks, and made it a memorable experience for not only my sister, but for me as well. Thanks for your example as the team leader, on and off the field, and thanks for making America’s favorite pass time more enjoyable!

Torii,
I moved to Mass this year and I have to watch the Red Sox and all their great young pitchers. Our hitters are fine especially you.. We need to trade Brandon Wood who is going to be a career AAA player for a Masterson to be our closer. What do you think about a Wood for one of Boston young arms?

Torii, just wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog (as well as your play in the field). Im an Angels season ticket holder, section 248 right behind center field so I get to see you make some amazing plays every home game. Keep playing great Torii.

Hope to see ya at the NEW yankee stadium this post-season!

I have seen many games around the country…whenever I travel for business, I try to always take in a game…I would like to catch every major league team in their home turf…but somehow, I missed the Yankees at the old Yankee Stadium. That sucks. It would have been cool to see them at both the old stadium and their new digs as well.

Randy – ExposurePerfect.com

Altho a pitchers first pitch is a strike hardly any batter makes a move to swing why?

Altho a pitchers first pitch is a strike hardly any batter makes a move to swing why?

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